Some thoughts about social media, Seth Godin, Frank Furedi, thinkers and collaboration

Twitter is a great thing. And I’m not talking about marketing or traffic building or whatever now. It’s a great thing because it allows you to connect with people. Well, we shouldn’t need Twitter or other social media to connect with people around us all the time. But if you live in France and want to connect with someone in India, Guatemala or Australia, it’s kind of handy.

Connecting with people on social media is just the start. Connecting, sending direct messages, etc. is a bit like dating. You gradually get to know each other.

Now, if you just start with Twitter: don’t think you will connect with everyone. If you have 100 followers, you can praise yourself lucky if one of them ultimately becomes a real relationship and seems to be someone you might ultimately want to call a friend or even a soulmate. The important thing is what happens after the connecting.

You connect a bit further. An email, a connection on LinkedIn, exchanging ideas and every now and then a miracle happens: you indeed find someone you appreciate and that appreciates you. 

Someone you can completely understand. And before you know it, you start doing stuff together.

That’s the value of Twitter and social media to me as a person. 

The people I build relationships with most of the time have a great B.S. filter. They’re down-to-earth and have common sense, even if they’re successful in their field.

As a matter of fact, I have a very strong B.S. filter myself. One of my customers, and this goes back to the days I was a consultant, even described me as such in a LinkedIn recommendation. Thanks, Tom, it was the best compliment ever.

It’s OK to be different and don’t talk the corporate talk

I don’t like people who are full of B.S. Unfortunately I write about and work in an industry where there’s still lots of B.S. going on. Have you noticed the word ‘still’?

I was quite happy when I read Ambal Balakrishnan’s interview with Seth Godin on his new book ‘Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?’.

Especially the part where Seth said “The world has changed, fundamentally and perhaps forever. The era of the factory is over. And so people are in pain. They’re in pain because they were trained to be compliant cogs in a factory, not independent artists focused on inventing new ideas and making a difference. And that pain feels unfair, because we did as we were told. The book is a clarion call that it’s okay to be the genius you were born to be”.

To some people, who are interested in philosophy, sociology and psychology (or should I say mankind?) like me, Seth’s words might sound a bit like a business version of Nietzsche’s work (one of the most misunderstood philosophers ever).

But they’re not. Let’s not talk Nietzsche. My advice to people who always felt different because they didn’t speak the corporate B.S., thought differently and always were about relationships (also in business): keep being different.

Let’s talk about someone else: Frank Furedi, a Britisch sociology professor whose works and writings I follow as much as I can.

You might want to read some of Frank Furedi’s book if you dare to be confronted with yourself. One of them is called “Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?”. 

Don’t be scared to call yourself a thinker or an intellectual. Don’t tell yourself: “my ideas are stupid and, anyway, they’re not mine because I read this or that”. 

Of course, your ideas and thoughts are original. However, that doesn’t mean they’re unique. Right now somewhere in this world probably has the same ideas as you have. 

Social media enable you to connect, learn, teach and create

And if you think your ideas are not original because you developed them after having read a book, talked to someone, etc., think again: all great thinkers were students once. We all are students and all are teachers. And calling yourself a thinker or intellectual is not a crime. Besides: reading a book is a conversation too; you’re talking back to the author. The only difference is no one can hear it.

The main problem is that our instant society does not like thinkers and people who are different. In the end, I guess this is what Seth has been thinking about too. Just like I have been thinking about it. And just as Frank Furedi wrote about it and thousands of people that are out there are thinking right now. I would love to connect with these people. Social media enable me to, now and then. 

Because in the end, it’s not about what Seth Godin, Frank Furedi, me, or you think. It’s about the great things we can achieve if we think together, disagree, learn, co-create, collaborate and evolve.

A summary of Furedi’s book as I copied it: “The Intellectual is an endangered species. In place of such figures as Bertrand Russell, Raymond Williams or Hannah Arendt – people with genuine learning, breadth of vision and a concern for public issues – we now have only facile pundits, think-tank apologists, and spin doctors. In the age of the knowledge economy, we have somehow managed to combine the widest ever participation in higher education with the most dumbed-down of cultures. In this urgent and passionate book, Frank Furedi explains the essential contribution of intellectuals both to culture and to democracy – and why we need to recreate a public sphere in which intellectuals and the general public can talk to each other again.”

You can buy it here.

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